WOMEN in business are being urged by a new book to “unsquash” themselves and release their full potential.

Actor turned communication coach Trisha Lewis says many people – especially women – are held back by people-pleasing behaviour and conformity.

Her book The Mystery of the Squashed Self aims to help readers to “crack their own case” by understanding what drives their behaviour.

“We are self-squashed from a very early age. We just are. Some parents do it,” she said.

“I’ve always struggled with any form of mashing down of what we’re meant to do. I absolutely see the legacy of that – I’ve been a ‘good girl’.”

The Southbourne-based author, 64, set up her own communication coaching business at the age of 59. She now works with women starting or growing a business and presents the podcast Make It Real.

Her book introduces the reader to eight frustrated business owners, Investigator Lewis and Professor P.

The eight cases are built around real stories shared by the author’s clients, as well as her personal experience of setting up a business and learning to “unsquash” herself.

“For your business to grow, you need to feel motivated, aligned and clear, and that means releasing the real you from the FIBs you are carrying around – fears, illusions and baggage,” she said.

She shows readers how to challenge the impulse to squash their natural selves, by using techniques such as “reframing” and the “rationaliy filter”.

“There’s a lot of practical, step-by-step action. I want them to be able almost to have a laugh at themselves, realising that they’re not alone and definitely human, understand that crazy stuff that our brain does,” she said.

“It’s not our brain’s fault. It was designed to do certain things but it’s not quite as clever as we think it is. Understanding all that makes you feel less of a useless person,” she added.

The Mystery of the Squashed Self features illustrations by the author’s former husband, the Swanage artist Tony Kerins. It is available via Amazon in paperback or for Kindle.